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Kanai Sensei

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 3 months ago

 

Kanai Sensei passed away unexpectedly on 28 March 2004.

 

I received the phone call Monday morning at work. Barbara Britton's 4 words: "Dave, we've lost sensei", struck me with disbelief. Kanai sensei was one of the constants in our lives. We could always count on returning to New England Aikikai and finding sensei teaching, helping and smiling with his students. Now he was gone and we couldn't believe it.

 

I taught class that Monday evening at Framingham Aikikai. We took the above picture off the back wall and placed it on the kamiza. After making the 3 hand claps to summon the spirits, I shared some of my memories of sensei with the newer students and then we meditated for a few minutes. I remember saying that the most important thing we could do to honor sensei, was to continue with our aikido practice; that is what he would have wanted. I tried to teach a basics class. No one could conentrate and tears flowed freely throughout the class. We just went through the motions and held on to each other. After class we just talked, cried and spent time together. The aikido dojo really is a place of healing.

 

Friday of that week, a memorial service was held for sensei in Cambridge. It was bitter sweet; I saw many old friends who I had not seen in years. Sensei's body lay in state at the front of the church. I spent some time standing in front of the casket, all the memories of training under sensei came washing back over me. I placed my hand for one last time, over Kanai's hands - kind and powerful hands, which had touched many student's hearts. Then I kissed his forehead as a last goodbye. Behind the casket were pictures and personal items belonging to sensei. I paused before each item and let the memories and feelings come back to me. The eulogies were very moving; each speaker telling what sensei meant to them. Chiba sensei spoke at length about his boyhood memories of Kanai and the early years when they trained at Hombu. Amidst all the sadness, Chiba was able to bring some smiles to our faces. Although the memorial service was difficult for all who attended, it brought a sense of closure. I couldn't believe Kanai was gone, until I saw his body resting peacefully in the church.

 

 

Some of my fond memories of Kanai sensei:

 

Watching us in class, Kanai would be bent over with his hands on his knees, watching intently. He would stand that way for up to several minutes at a time, some times making facial expressions. In my case he would usually just shake his head, smile and walk away!

 

Kanai would stand with his thumb hooked over the front of his hakama and his other hand would be holding the fabric of his hakama just above his knee. This was usually an indication that he was going to change the technique.

 

One night Gilda and I were practicing nikkyo, the one where uke's hand is not on your shoulder; you are just using your hands with your arms extended. I was giving Gilda some resistance as she applied nikkyo. Kanai came over, gently took my hand in his and said: "try it this way". I dropped to the mat like a rock, the pain was so intense.

 

Sensei would on occasion come out to Framingham Aikikai and teach an evening class. If I was working with a beginner, Kanai would come up to us and after instruction, he would say to my partner, with that mischievous grin on his face, "Now I want you to throw him as hard as you can !"

 

Sensei was a master craftsman and would refurbish swords and knives. My son is a speedskater and essentially skates on 17 inch knives, the blades are so sharp. Sensei was very interested in how I sharpened his skates, so one day I brought in my son's skates, a sharpening jig and sharpening stones, to show sensei. He was as excited as a little kid, as I showed him the sharpening process.

 

Dave with Kanai Sensei

 

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